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Boldrin & Levine: Against Intellectual Monopoly

Boldrin & Levine: Against Intellectual Monopoly

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: LEX-57 the lex engine on Oct 16, 2011
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Above all we are grateful to our families, Emanuela, Niccolò, Joyce, and Milenafor putting up with us while we wrote this – not to speak of reading and criticizing partsof it.A great many people contributed to our ideas and knowledge of intellectualproperty expressed in this book – although many of them no doubt would disagree withour sentiments and some of our conclusions. We are particularly grateful to NicholasGruen, Doug Clement, Jim Schmitz, Tim Sullivan and especially to our editor ScottParris for their continued support and advice.Many people advised us about particular issues. We are grateful for PrestonMcAfee’s analyis of the Rambus case, Alessandro Nuvolari’s advice, especially aboutsteam power, Ivan P’ng’s example of the wheeled suitcase, Eric Rasumussen’s analysisof marketing and copyright, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal’s leads on the history of copyright,and George Selgin and John Turner’s corrections to our story of James Watt.Many people contributed examples, comments and references, especially TimErickson, Jack Hirshleifer, Bronwyn Hall, Andrea Moro, G. Moschini, Ed Prescott, PaulSeabright, Malik Shukayev, Robert Solow, William Stepp, and Edward Welbourne.We learned an immense amount from our fellow bloggers atwww.againstmonopoly.org: John Bennett, Andrea Moro, Michael Perelman, SheldonRichman, and William Stepp.We are grateful also to the Slashdot website and its many contributors for a set of detailed comments on an early version of some of the chapters. Many other peoplecontributed thoughts, ideas, examples and discussion: Larry Ausubel, David Backus,Kyle Bagwell, Sandip Baliga, Gary Becker, Robert Becker, James Bessen, Andres Bucio,Jorge Capapey, V.V. Chari, Pierre-Andre Chiappori, Eddie Dekel, Drew Fudenberg,Clara Graziano, William Brock, Juan Urrutia Elejalde, John Gallup, Richard Gilbert,Mike Golosov, Dan Hite, Hugo Hopenhayn, Chad Jones, Larry E. Jones, BoyanJovanovic, Nobu Kiyotaki, Lennart Krantz, Timothy Lee, Jay Lepreau, Bob Lucas, MikeMasnick, Salvatore Modica, Enrico Moretti, Paul Romer, Roger Myerson, Mark Sattherwaite, Rob Shimer, Nancy Stokey, Ivan Werning, Freddy Williams, AsherWolinsky, Curtis Yarvin, and Alejandro Zentne. Our student and research assistant,Fanchang Huang, read the whole manuscript and corrected an endless list of mistakes,poorly assembled references, and other kinds of mishaps. He did a great job and we aremost grateful to him. We are sure some errors will still be there, and it is all our fault.The Chinese University of Hong Kong and The University of PennsylvaniaIER/Laurence Klein Lecture provided opportunities to present our work to broadaudiences, and for this and the many comments that resulted we are grateful.A great many conferences and seminars listened patiently to variations on ouranalyis: American Economic Association Meetings, Atlanta; Arizona State University,Economics Department; Beijing University, Economics Department; Brown University,macroeconomics and theory workshops; Carlos III, Theory Workshop; CarnegieRochester Conference; City University of Hong Kong, Theory Workshop; Columbia,Theory Workshop; Cornell, Theory Workshop; Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas,conference on Globalization; Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, seminar; FundacionUrrutia Conference, Madrid; Harvard ,Theory Workshop; Humbolt University of Berlin,Theory Workshop; IGER, Bocconi, Milano; Indiana University, Theory Workshop; IowaState, Theory Workshop; ITAM, Mexico D.F.; IUE, Florence, Economics Department;
 
London School of Economics, Theory Workshop; Loyola University, Chicago;Northwestern, Theory Workshop; NYU, Economics Department; Oxford, EconomicsDepartment; Pompeu Fabra, Theory Workshop; Purdue University, EconomicsDepartment; Rochester University, Theory Seminar; Rochester University, Wegmansconference; SED Conference, Paris; Stanford, macroeconomics workshop; SUNYBuffalo, Economics Department; Toulouse Theory Workshop; UCLA, EconomicsDepartment; UC Berkeley, Macroeconomics Workshop; University of Alabama, TheoryWorkshop; University of Chicago, Theory Workshop; University of Kansas, TheoryWorkshop; Universidad Autonoma, Madrid, Economics Department; VeniceInternational University, Economics Department; Wisconsin Madison, EconomicsDepartment; World Bank - Pompeu Fabra conference; Wuhan University, EconomicsDepartment; and Yale, Cowles Commission.
 
Boldrin & Levine: Against Intellectual Monopoly, Chapter 11
Chapter 1: Introduction
In late 1764, while repairing a small Newcomen steamengine, the idea of allowing steam to expand and condense inseparate containers sprang into the mind of James Watt. He spentthe next few months in unceasing labor building a model of thenew engine. In 1768, after a series of improvements and substantialborrowing, he applied for a patent on the idea, requiring him totravel to London in August. He spent the next six months workinghard to obtain his patent. It was finally awarded in January of thefollowing year. Nothing much happened by way of productionuntil 1775. Then, with a major effort supported by his businesspartner, the rich industrialist Matthew Boulton, Watt secured anAct of Parliament extending his patent until the year 1800. Thegreat statesman Edmund Burke spoke eloquently in Parliament inthe name of economic freedom and against the creation of unnecessary monopoly – but to no avail.
1
The connections of Watt’s partner Boulton were too solid to be defeated by simpleprinciple.Once Watt’s patents were secured and production started, asubstantial portion of his energy was devoted to fending off rivalinventors. In 1782, Watt secured an additional patent, made“necessary in consequence of ... having been so unfairlyanticipated, by [Matthew] Wasborough in the crank motion.”
2
More dramatically, in the 1790s, when the superior Hornblowerengine was put into production, Boulton and Watt went after himwith the full force of the legal system.
3
During the period of Watt’s patents the U.K. added about750 horsepower of steam engines per year. In the thirty yearsfollowing Watt’s patents, additional horsepower was added at arate of more than 4,000 per year. Moreover, the fuel efficiency of steam engines changed little during the period of Watt’s patent;while between 1810 and 1835 it is estimated to have increased by afactor of five.
4
After the expiration of Watt’s patents, not only was therean explosion in the production and efficiency of engines, but steampower came into its own as the driving force of the industrialrevolution. Over a thirty year period steam engines were modifiedand improved as crucial innovations such as the steam train, thesteamboat and the steam jenny came into wide usage. The keyinnovation was the high-pressure steam engine – development of which had been blocked by Watt’s strategic use of his patent.

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